By Pedro Souza
November 28, 2017

The guitar is an instrument that has inspired millions of people all over the world, giving birth to a plethora of musicians that took the instrument to its limits and created new forms, some more enduring than others. Among this legion of guitar players, few musicians have been able to play the instrument with as much mastery, intimacy and passion as Baden Powell de Aquino, more commonly known as Baden Powell.

Born in 1937, Powell was named after the founder of the scouting movement by his father, who used to be a boy scout. At the age of seven, he started playing the guitar when his father taught him a few basic chords. The young Powell quickly fell in love with the instrument, and soon learned everything his father could teach. The next year, he began to take classes from Jayme Florence, who used to play with legendary MPB musician Benedito Lacerda.

Powell learned very quickly, and at 9 years old he competed in a musical contest named “Papel Carbono”, which was played in the famous radio network “Rádio Nacional”. With his cover of Dilmerando Reis’ “magoado”, he was awarded first place in his category, which made him even more motivated to dedicate himself to playing guitar. At 13 years old he finished his guitar course, having had contact with many great musicians. He started then playing as a professional, playing for a cache in many different venues.

After finishing high school, Baden started playing at the orchestra of the “Rádio Nacional”, travelling through Brazil and playing through the country. In the fifties, he joined the trio of a pianist named Ed Lincoln, playing with them in a venue in Copacabana named Boite Plaza. As Powell made a name for himself, he started composing and playing with many musicians, such as Nilo Queiroz, Aloysio de Oliveira and Ruy Guerra. From this period, many of his hits were born; songs like “Não é Bem Assím”, “Rosa Flor”, “Vou Por Aí” and “Samba Triste”, which remains one of his most popular songs.

In the sixties, his life would change when he was visited by legendary poet and lyricist Vinicius de Moraes while playing a concert in Copacabana. Moraes called out to Powell and proposed that they write a few songs together. Soon, they would spend three months together in Moraes’ apartment with a tape recorder, a guitar and plenty of whiskey. This was the start of a legendary partnership, which resulted in some of Baden’s best works. It was from this partnership that the “afro-sambas” were born, albums that mixed classical samba with African rhythms and lyrics that were heavily influenced by African-Brazilian religion candomblé.

Still in the sixties, Powell would begin to make international tours and spread his music through the world. While he lived, he took the guitar to a new level, exploring a variety of styles such as jazz, bossa nova, MPB and samba. When he died in 2000, he had produced more than 40 albums, as well as a countless single recordings with some of the best musicians of his time. Though the man is gone, he has left some of the most beautiful guitar songs that have ever been recorded, and his memory lives on in every one that was inspired and touched by his music.

By Pedro Souza
June 19, 2017

Brazil is not only a great country for living and visiting, but it also offers many opportunities for studying. Many Brazilian colleges appear frequently in the QS World University rankings, with USP (Universidade de São Paulo) and UNICAMP (Universidade Estadual de Campinas) being the two most prominent ones in the last ranking.

Educational institutions in Brazil are often evaluated, as a form of quality control. Postgraduate programmes are evaluated every two years by the government, and if they get a low score they are then monitored by the Brazilian Federal Agency for the Support and Evaluation of Graduate Education (CAPES).

There are different types of institutions that offer higher education in Brazil. The first of these institutions are universities, which are focused on teaching and research on different areas of human knowledge. Universities need to be recognized by Brazil’s Ministry of Education, which is known as MEC. For a university to be recognized by MEC, at least one third of its teaching staff must have a PHD. Then there are University Centers, which are institutions focused on multi-course teaching but with no obligations to carry out research.

One can also get higher education in Integrated Faculties and Schools of Higher Education, which offer both undergraduate and postgraduate courses. Both of these institutions need to be recognized by MEC as well when opening new courses. Integrated Faculties are subject to a set of regulations made by a larger university institution to which they are affiliated, while schools of higher education offer one or a few courses in a specific area. Both of these institutions have little autonomy.

There are also institutes that offer courses and carry out research on specialized subjects, as well as isolated private colleges, which are not linked to any university and are not required to conduct research. These colleges offer graduate and post-graduate courses, and are very easy to be admitted into most of the time. Prices and quality in these colleges vary. Some private colleges offer excellent courses, but often at inaccessible prices.

Undergraduate degrees are known in Brazil as a “bacharelado” (Bachelor’s), and take from three to six years to complete. One can also take technology degrees known as “tecnologia”, which take from two to three years to complete and offer specialized courses with a focus on practical knowledge in areas such as agribusiness and metallurgy.

In order to apply for any institution that offer higher education, it is mandatory to have finished high school. Since 2009, one can enter certain universities using grades from the National Survey of Secondary Education (ENEM), a test that students take in the last year of high school. For the majority of courses, students will take a test offered by the college which is known as “Vestibular”, and which varies in content and subjects according to the institution and course that one intends to join.

If students have applied for in person education, they are required to attend at least 75% of the lessons and evaluations offered by the institution they have chosen. In many institutions, however, some teachers will not take note of students who are missing. One can also choose distance courses, which use printed and visual media, as well as the internet. Some courses are offered in English and other languages that are not native to Brazil. This tendency has been growing, as learning institutions have been showing an increasing interest in attracting foreign students. That being said, most courses are still taught in Portuguese only.

By Pedro Souza
May 22, 2017

Football plays an important part in Brazilian culture and life. This can be observed in the kids playing a match in the streets, in the television in the bar displaying a game and when cities erupt in cheers and fireworks when a famous team scores a goal. Being as involved with football as Brazilians are, they have developed a rich vocabulary that deals with the sport. Below, we have made a compilation of football slangs and expressions for you.

Banheira (Bathtub): A player is in a “banheira” when he stays in the offensive and does not return to the defense when the opposing team has the ball.
Bicanca: A kick delivered with the tip of the foot.
Mala preta (black bag): A “mala preta” is a gratification that a soccer club might offer to a team’s players as an extra incentive. This is also known as a “suborn branco” (white bribe).
Cavar uma falta (to dig a penalty): A player is “digging a penalty” when he fakes a situation to make a player from the other team get penalized.
Arqueiro (archer): A slang for goalkeeper.
Torpedo/Missile: A really strong kick is often called a “torpedo” or a “míssel” (missile).
No pau! (In the stick): An expression often used by narrators when the ball hits the goal post.
Chapéu (hat): A “chapéu” is a maneuver where a player dribbles another player by making the ball go over his head.
Golaço: An impressive goal is often called a “golaço” in Brazil.
Molhar a camisa (to wet the shirt): When a player puts a lot of effort in a game, it can be said that he is “wetting his shirt”.
Pé torto (crooked food): A player that misses to many passes is often called a “pé torto”.
Gol do meio de rua (goal from the middle of the street): A goal that is scored from a considerable distance if often called a “gol do meio de rua”.
Bola envenenada (poisoned ball): When a player kicks towards the goal a ball that is tricky to catch, it is often called a “poisoned ball”.
Camisa 12 (Shirt number 12): An expression for the people cheering for a team.
Frango (chicken): A bad goalie is often called a “chicken”.
Firula: An unnecessary maneuver done to humiliate an opponent.
Figura (figure): An important player.
Chavecar: To “chavecar” is to underestimate or belittle an opponent.
Carrinho (little car): When a player throws himself on the ground while trying to hit the ball or the opponent’s shins with his foot.
Botar pra naná (To put to sleep): When a player makes the goalie jump towards one side of the goal and scores kicking by kicking the ball towards the other side during the penalties, he has put the golie “to sleep”.
Craque: A popular expression for a really good player.
Desarmar (to disarm): To take the ball from a player from another team.
Ladrão (thief): A player that catches an opponent unaware and suddenly takes the ball away from him.
Matador (killer): A player that often finishes his plays with a goal.
Perna de pau (wooden leg): A player that has bad control of the ball.
Pelada (naked): An informal and carefree match.

By Teresa Cristina
March 27, 2017

The topic of queing in supermarkets is dear to my heart, since I find it so, so annoying – and yes, I am a Brazillian who can not stand this. I thought it would be helpful to write about it, to set expectations for foreigners shopping at supermarkets around Brazil.

Well, the story is more or less this one…. you get your cart at a grocery store, start shopping for all items and then when you are done, you drive yourself to the cashier in order to get your items checked out and paid for. Well, in Brazil you will see folks shopping around and bringing the items to the front where somebody (a mate, a child) awaits with a cart or simply with its body, saving the position in the line. Or, worse yet, you will pick your line, generally speaking, you pick the one with the least number of persons or the least number of shopping carts, and all of a sudden somebody appears in front of you with a cart overflowing of items, just to note his/her mate (family member most of the time) is awaiting in line saving a position in front of you.

Just to keep it entertaining, my last incident was at Super Adega in Brasilia – DF (man! This is the typical place you will see this behavior, the store is full during the weekends and you can observe the worst behavior from Brazillian shoppers). Anyway, I was done with my shopping, picked a line and awaited patiently, but then I saw the young man in front of me restlessly looking towards the back of the grocery store. I thought to myself, this is not going to end well. He had his cart in front of me, naturally, when all of a sudden his wife arrives with a packed cart and enters right in front. I politely said that was not OK and they should do that no more in respect of others.

As a Brazillian, I always encourage people to speak out about these type of incidents, since it is very offensive to any individual; you take your time to shop, while somebody else is playing smart on your account. More than once I have politely let people know this is not OK, and my right for picking up a line with a pre-known number of people and items in front of me needs to be respected. Do the same. If you are a foreigner, Brazillians will tend to feel a little bit more ashamed for being called upon their bad behaviour. Or, you just take it easy, seeing it as one more characteristic of Brazillian culture, and be cool about it. Maybe as I grow old here in Brazil, I will just learn to accept this type of behavior, which today I do not.

By Pedro Souza December 27th, 2016

Everyone that has come to Brazil knows how delicious Brazilian food is. Few things are as satisfying as a big plate of rice, beans and farofa complete with a large steak. Among a wide array of dishes and foods, the gaucho-style barbecue known locally as “churrasco” stands out as a reference when it comes to meat.

The gauchos are the inhabitants of grasslands known as pampas, which are found mostly in Paraguay, Argentina, Uruguay and southern Brazil. They are known for being excellent horsemen, and they are often hired to herd cattle through the year. Playing a role akin to cowboys in the United States, the gauchos have become a folk symbol in Argentina and Uruguay. In Brazil, the gauchos are concentrated in the south of the country. Nevertheless, their legendary way of making meat has spread like wildfire through Brazil, becoming a staple of the national cuisine.

In Brazil, the gaucho barbecue emerged in the 17th century in communities catholicized by Jesuit monks. The meat would be spiced with coarse salt and fat before being placed in the ground with stakes around a fire. Over a period of several hours, the meat was roasted by the embers. This process that enhances the taste and texture of the meat, quickly became a staple in the state of Santa Catarina, in the South of Brazil.

In the beginning, the meat of choice for the gaucho barbecue was the rib, which acquired a texture that makes it so tender that it almost dissolves in your mouth as you eat it. As the method gained popularity and spread to other regions as well, people started experimenting with different cuts of meat, condiments and ingredients to enhance the process. A cut that has become widely popular for example is the picanha, a juicy cut from the rear of the steer that has generous amounts of fat. Another popular cut in Brazil is the flank steak, known locally as fraldinha. Yet, these are just a few among an incredible array of meat cuts to make any mouth water.

As the gaucho barbecue developed and became popular through the country, a new concept emerged: The “rodízio”. In a rodízio steakhouse, a costumer will pay a fixed price for an all-you-can eat buffet of gaucho barbecue. In most rodízios, costumers will be greeted with a table where they can get salad, vegetables and other side-dishes to eat with their meat. The different cuts of meat however, are served at the table in skewers by waiters. On a single rodízio, one might experience more than 10 different cuts of meat, providing one with a real tour through the flavors offered of gaucho barbecue.

The rodízio is considered the epitome of gaucho barbecue, which considered by many to be the holy grail of all barbecues. If you are a meat lover and find yourself in Brazil, you should not miss the opportunity of going to a rodízio steakhouse. Although they are usually a bit pricey, it is a remarkable experience. If you don’t live in Brazil, you can still find one in some countries such as the United States and Canada, where they are starting to become popular. Either way, one thing is guaranteed: you are in for a hell of a ride!

By Pedro Souza
December 27th, 2016

If you are planning on living in Brazil, it is essential that you understand how the healthcare system works here. The country offers a free Unified Health System funded by the government and known locally as SUS (Sistema Ùnico de Saúde). Hospitals that are covered by this system are known as municipal hospitals. Both Brazilians and foreigners can get access to the services offered by these hospitals by showing an ID and a SUS card (Cartão SUS), which is issued by all Brazilian municipal offices, health centers, hospitals and clinics. You can also order one online at 0 Comments/by

cachaca222By Pedro Souza
November 26th, 2016

Most foreigners have only come to know cachaça as a component of caipirinha, a Brazilian cocktail that has become popular worldwide. Yet, it is a drink widely appreciated in Brazil, most often drank pure. The cachaça is a distilled spirit made with sugarcane juice, with an alcohol content usually around 40% of its total volume. Currently, it is the most popular distilled drink in Brazil, and it has become embedded in Brazilian culture.

No-one knows for sure how exactly did cachaça originate, and many conflicting versions exist. What is agreed on is that it was created after the Portuguese brought sugar cane from the Madeira Island. According to one version of the story, cachaça was accidentaly created when a slave from Pernambuco that was storing “cagaça”, a liquid formed when sugar cane juice is boiled. This would have caused it to ferment naturally and create the first cachaça of all. Another version is presented by Brazilian historian Luís da Câmara Cascudo in his book “Preludes of the Cachaça”. According to him, cachaça was first distilled around 1532 in the city of São Vicente, where the production of sugar in Brazil originated. In his version of the story, it was the Portuguese who distilled it at first, after learning techniques from the Arabs.

Regardless of how it originated, it has been a part of Brazil through the vast majority of the country’s history since it was found by the Portuguese in 1500. At first it was consumed by slaves, but other people soon began to appreciate it. The drink spread quickly through the coast, becoming an important part of the emerging economy. Through merchants, it also spread outside of Brazil, being well received in some parts of Africa and Europe. In Portugal, cachaça became so popular that the Portuguese crown decided to heavily tax the cachaça that was coming from Brazil and out-competing the nationally produced “bagaceira”. This led cachaça producers to rise up against Portugal in 1660 in what is now known as the “Revolta da Cachaça” (The Cachaça’s Revolt).

Later, cachaça spread to the states of Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais, which is a state that is nowadays notorious for its cachaça production. In Minas, cachaça arrived with the gold rush. Stories tell that white cachaça was transported in barrels to Minas, arriving there with a brown color and a flavor acquired from the barrel. Supposedly, it is because of this that cachaça started to be produced inside oak barrels. Whether this is true or not, the cachaça production in Minas tends to favor the brown cachaça produced inside oak barrels.

In the 19th century, cachaça started to be devalued by the new Brazilian elite that was born from the ascension of coffee. The new coffee barons copied their manners and culture from Europe, and the elitists that they were, they despised cachaça as a drink for poor, uneducated black people. Despite the elite’s rejection of cachaça, it remained a popular drink for the majority of the population, and it was also celebrated by intellectuals who mocked the Brazilian elites and their aversion for national customs.

Nowadays, it is celebrated through the whole country, and produced by more than 4 thousand “alambiques”. It is interesting to note that while the production of sugar cane has always been associated with powerful land-owners in Brazil, the production of cachaça has always been and still is made in an artisanal manner. And through the country, one can enjoy an incredible array of cachaças, varying in flavor, color and strength. Many foreigners do not like their first taste of pure cachaça, but many say it is a drink that grows on you. If you enjoy a good drink, do not miss an opportunity to have a taste of cachaça. And if you ever find yourself in Brazil, this is just the right place to do it.

amazonas222By Pedro Souza
October 30th, 2016

The state of Amazonas is located in the northwest of Brazil, and is in large part occupied by the amazon rainforest. Like in every other state, locals have developed unique slangs and expressions. If you ever plan on going there, you might as well become familiar with these expressions and impress some locals in the process. Below, we have made a compilation of the slangs and expressions used by Amazonenses in their daily life.

Lavar Urubu (Washing Vultures): When an Amazonense is unemployed, he is washing vultures.
Fanta: When something is boring or bland, it is fanta.
Aploprado: Something exaggerated.
Leso: A person who often gets distracted and/or forgets or loses things is a leso.
Leseira: When the leso’s distraction manifests itself, he has committed a leseira.
Malinar: To malinar is to gratuitously commit a wrongdoing or to do harm to someone.
Maceta: If something is abnormally large, it is a maceta.
Maluvido: A person that behaves badly.
Aporrinhar: To bother or annoy someone.
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Monte: This expression that has spread through the rest of the country simply means a large amount of something.
Aperreado: When you are in a tight situation that is making you nervous or stressed, you are aperreado.
Péia: In Amazonas you don’t take a beating, you take a péia.
Pitíu: A bad smell.
Arrumação: An unnecessary invention.
Arregaçar: To destroy something.
Angu: An angu is a typical Brazilian dish. In Amazonas, it can also mean a confusion or a mess.
Pai d’égua: Something really good or cool.
Altear: To raise something such as the volume of the television.
Alumiar: To light something.
Zoada: Things don’t make noise in Amazonas, they make a zoada.
Á perigo (By danger): When you have no money, you are by danger.
A pulso (By pulse): To do something by pulse in Amazonas means to do it by force.
Abafar (To smother): Strangely, this means “to steal” in Amazonas.
Abestado: An abestado is a stupid person.
Baixa D’égua: When someone is bothering you in Amazonas, you tell that person to go the Baixa D’égua, which is a hypothetical place.
Brocado: A hungry person.
Cunhatã: A little girl.
Curumim: A little boy.
Capar o gato (To castrate the cat): In Amazonas you don’t leave a place, you castrate the cat.
Dos vera: When something is true, it is dos vera.
Putatueba: A meaningless word used to express dissatisfaction.
Vexado: This adjective can mean either “ashamed” and “in a hurry”.
Visagem: A ghost or apparition.
Abobrinha (Squash): Something stupid or not important. If a person is talking nonsense for example, you can tell that person to stop talking squash.
Aço (Steel): An alcoholic beverage.
Acunhar: To acunhar with someone is to get romantically involved with that person.
Afrontado: Full or satisfied. Used often after eating.
Agorinha (Right now): When something has happened “agorinha”, it occurred few moments ago.
Ajuntar (To gather): To pick things from the floor.

funk222By Pedro Souza
October 2nd, 2016

For most people, the word “funk” brings to mind the groovy rhythms played by the likes of James Brown, Rick James and Herbie Hancock. Brazilian funk however, bears little resemblance to its American counterpart.

Born in the eighties in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro, Brazilian funk was heavily influenced by Miami Bass, being considered a derivative of it by some. With repetitive beats, sensual choreographies and lyrics that reflect the daily life in the favelas and other marginalized communities, the style quickly spread.

In the end of the eighties, funk had become the voice of the favelas, talking about drugs, violence, poverty and sexuality. Funk parties became popular events where communities competed by displaying their songs and sound systems. It was at this time that the first famous Mc’s started to appear and make their names in the music community. The style however, was still confined to poor communities, and was viewed by many with prejudice.

One of the reasons was the association between funk parties and violence and drug use. Many criminal factions financed funk parties, and used them as a way to spread their influence and dispute power with other factions. In the 2000’s however, the style broke through its isolation and began to be appreciated by Brazilians from all walks of life.

As the names of popular MC’s became well known among Brazilians regardless of their origins, the style also began to appear in radios and television shows. Funk also started to develop into a more diverse style, with many different subdivisions. One of these subdivisions is funk melô, with melodic and romantic characteristic. This form of funk conquered the public with MC’s like Claudinho and Bochecha. Another notorious subdivision of funk is the “proibidão”, with violent and super-sexualized lyrics. Nowadays it is one of the most popular forms of funk.

The rise of funk wasn’t without resistance however. In 2009, the prefecture of Rio de Janeiro launched a project with norms that made it impossible to throw funk parties in the favelas. The norms had to be revised after a wave of popular protests however. The style also faces criticism from many intellectuals and other segments of the Brazilian populations.

Some critique the style for its frequent apology of drug-use and crime. Others complain about the promiscuity of the lyrircs and the effects it may have on children and teenagers. Another common criticism is the sexist behavior and objectification of women that is often seen in funk culture.

While there is some validity to these objections, Brazilian funk should be seen as a legitimate cultural manifestation, one that allows people from marginalized communities to assert and express their identity. Alongside with rap, it has become one of the main channels for these communities to let their voice be heard. And like rap, it has come a long way from its humble beginnings to its invasion of mainstream Brazilian pop culture. Even after coming that far, however, there is still a stigma to Brazilian funk. But like it or not, it is here to stay.

Tropcalia222By Pedro Souza
August 29th, 2016

The sixties in Brazil were marked by the beginning of a bloody dictatorship, which started in 1964 and went all the way from 1985. The repression didn’t affect only communists and other leftists, but it also arrested and tortured many artists from all different fields. Yet, one of the most vibrant musical movements in the history of Brazil emerged during this period. Known as tropicália or tropicalismo, it emerged at the end of the sixties, exploding into the artistic scene during the Festival de Música Popular (Popular Music Festival) that took place in 1967 organized by TV Record.

Characterized by its syncretism, it had an “everything goes” attitude, mixing musical styles such as rock, bossa nova, baião and samba among others. It is also responsible for the introduction of the electric guitar in the Brazilian musical scene, which provoked revolt among some classical musicians who complained that Braziliam music was being corrupted by North-American influences. The movement also pushed forward many aesthetic changes. Morals, behavior and sexuality were influenced by tropicália, and many aspects of the hippie counterculture were assimilated into Brazil, such as the colorful clothing and long hair.

Lyrically, the musicians that took part in it were very poetic, making social critiques and talking about ordinary things in an innovative way. Although there were social critiques in some of the lyrics, using music as a weapon against the dictatorship wasn’t among the top priorities of the movement. Because of this, its artists were often criticized by other musicians, which were using their music as a form of protest. In response, the proponents of tropicalismo argued that changing the face of music was revolutionary in itself.

The movement launched some of the most popular artists in the country, and many albums released during this time are now considered classics. Musicians such as Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, Tom Zé, Gal Costa and the psychedelic rock band Mutantes changed the Brazilian musical scene forever. With their TV appearances, organized events and collaborative albums, they quickly sent shockwaves through Brazil, leaving their mark in history. Despite its popularity, the movement was short lasted. Even though the musicians that took place in it weren’t as militant as other sectors of the Brazilian musical scene, its libertarian tendencies caused it to be repressed by the dictatorship. In 1969, Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil were arrested and sent in exile, which sent the movement tumbling down.

Thus ended one of the most notorious musical movements In Brazil. Yet, while it lasted only a few years, it changed Brazilian music and culture forever. Its influence can still be seen in Brazilian cinema and theater, and in the attitude and aesthetics of some parts of Brazilian counter-culture. Many contemporary artists such as Secos e Molhados and Nação Zumbi were also heavily influenced by tropicália. The movement also left us some of the best music that has been produced in Brazil, which is still widely listened and appreciated worldwide.